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Mars Express Orbiter Sees a Massive Canyon System

The Mars Express Orbiter recently imaged a canyon system on the Red Planet that is nearly 10 times longer, 20 times wider, and five times deeper than Earth’s Grand Canyon.


The massive feature is called Valles Marineris (Mariner Valleys) and it’s the largest canyon system in the solar system. According to an ESA release, if it were on Earth, the canyon system would stretch from the northern tip of Norway to the bottom of Sicily.


Mars Express has been orbiting the Red Planet since 2003 and has captured remarkable views of the planet’s geological features from above. The satellite is also charged with studying the Martian atmosphere and mapping the planet’s mineral makeup.


The orbiter also peered below the planet’s surface, thanks to its MARSIS instrument; those observations have shined light on what lies beneath the Martian south pole.


The recently imaged system is characterized by two main trenches, the 522-mile Ius Chasma and the 500-mile Tithonium Chasma. The trenches are over 4 miles deep in some places. The area of the chasms was imaged by the orbiter’s High Resolution Stereo Camera on April 21, in what was the spacecraft’s 23,123rd orbit around Mars. The orbiter took true color images of the chasmata, showing us how the structures would appear to the naked eye.

最近成像的系统以两条主沟为特征,522英里的Ius Chasma和500英里的Tithonium Chasma。有些地方的壕沟超过4英里深。4月21日,轨道飞行器的高分辨率立体相机在该航天器环绕火星的23123轨道上拍摄到了裂口区域。轨道飞行器拍摄了chasmata的真彩色图像,向我们展示了这些结构在肉眼下的外观。